20th Century British Art
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Edwin Smith (1912-1971)


Photographer, architect, writer, painter, draughtsman and printmaker, born in poor circumstances in London, leaving school aged 12. While at a trade school became interested in architecture and won a scholarship to the Architectural Association. Smith became known, however, mainly as a photographer. His name appeared on about 4 volumes published internationally, and many shows of his prints have been held, for example at the Plymouth Art Centre and Brighton Festival in 1985. Edwin Smith also made two films for Samaritan Films, one on Rembrandt, the other on the Pre-Raphaelites. Smith wrote several books on photography and public collections, including Victoria & Albert Museum, hold his work. During his life only a few friends knew that Smith regarded himself mainly as an artist. Although he produced a huge volume of oils, watercolours, drawings an prints, it was after his death that exhibition bean to give some idea of his achievement. Shows included House Gallery, 1978 and 1980, Church Street Gallery in Saffron Walden, 1985, Clare College in Cambridge, in 1986, and in 1987 Smith’s pictures and photographs were include in a Paradise Lost at Barbican Art Gallery. His wife, the artist and writer Olive Cook, wrote that Smith “captured the joy and immediacy of the fleeting visual experience” in some work, in other “recollected images irradiated by an inner apocalyptic private vision”. Smith settled in Saffron Hunter Fine Art gave Smith a series of posthumous exhibitions.

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